Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1860. Chicago binder, book, and installation artist Karen Hanmer’s intimate, playful works fragment and layer text and image to intertwine memory, cultural history, and the history of science. Her work weds the ancient art of book binding with the high tech use of the computer to aid her process. The intimate scale and the gestures of exploration required to travel through each piece evoke the experience of looking through an album, a diary, or the belongings of a loved one. However, her works often take the forms of games or puzzles, and many include witty text.
Karen Hanmer has created a beautiful and unique leather binding for this classic book about Sir John Franklin’s 1845 expedition that was one of many to search for the elusive Northwest Passage, a sea route through the Arctic connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Franklin’s two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, became trapped in sea ice and were abandoned in 1848. None of the 129 man crew survived, and the ships were believed to be lost. The Voyage of the ‘Fox’ in the Arctic Seas is an account of one of numerous expeditions to search for Franklin’s ships and crew.
Karen began working on this binding in August of 2014, the same time another expedition to search for Franklin’s ships began. The well-preserved wreckage of HMS Erebus was found on September 7, 2014. The design for her binding was inspired by historic and contemporary photographs, paintings and illustrations of sea ice and Arctic exploration. The book was rebound in full teal goatskin, with white, blue, and green buffalo and calf vellum inlays to both outer and inner covers. The inlays are in various shapes to represent floating ice. There are public domain images of historic shipwrecks injket printed and then laminated behind the vellum inlays. With hand-sewn, French-style headbands and graphite to top edges. The book’s original cloth covers are bound in at front and rear. The book is housed in a green cloth clamshell box with leather title label to spine. The green suede interior of the box has narrow cutout spaces to accommodate the cover’s inlays. In fine condition. Size: 7.75 x 5.25 x 1.5 inches. PRI/061917.